This is our archive of all newsletters written by Sarah Griffith and other volunteers through the last two years.
To read another article please use the menu below to select year, month and the article itself.
Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
Venue? 1st class on BA to Miami – why you may ask? Well therein lies a tale……… are you sitting comfortably then I will begin….
Once upon a time on my 12th trip to Haiti – I had 3 bags weighing very very heavy – the reason? A last min appeal for meds for a Cholera spike on a camp in a neighbourhood we work in Port au Prince.
Aurigny were fantastic and let me through – I arrived at Terminal 5 at Heathrow and despite a letter from my travel agent to get 2 of my 3 bags on free – I had to go and see a supervisor and she told me that BA do not honour the AA bags allowance even tho it is a code share – she was very nice and over rode the system and let me through…….great… first hurdle over.
My seat was at the very back of the BA plane and I shared 4 seats with one other lovely lady. As we took off 2 of the hostess’s were chatting and were fascinated with where I was going. They looked after me like a queen for the duration of the flight – half way through, Ann, one of them came up and invited me to 1st class for tea and cakes! You could have knocked me down with a feather….she was so sweet and said that she would come in a few mins to get me. I watched a hilarious film called the Untouchables – really recommend it – funny and very touching too – and then the male hostie came to ‘collect’ me, and all my belongings. What a treat – they sat me in a really comfy lie back seat and served tea in a china pot – small sandwiches – no crusts – scones and cream and cakes – phew. I told the lady that I felt slightly embarassed and her reply was ‘one good turn deserves another’ WOW – well done BA.
I asked one of the staff if she would get Ann so I could show her some pics of the children in Haiti. What a nice lady.
I will be writing to thank you!
Ps. Its terribly posh.
The good luck didn’t stop there tho……. As I got of the flight I heard my name called out and it was a motorised cart………..what is going on – the man drove like the wind and we beat all the thousands of folks stampeding that way – arrived at Immigration – normally heaving – I was through in a nanosecond – the fairy with the magic dust must be on my shoulder! Then as a final little touch I walked out to get the shuttle bus to the hotel and as I went through the doors it glided to a stop in front of me…..I usually have to call the hotel after an hour of waiting to find out he has gone on walk about!
I count myself to be very lucky.....
Monday 4th Feb
Dry and bright this morning and as I sit for breakfast Christian brings a white bag of unroasted coffee beans to show me. A Laplanche uncle grows these in southern Haiti…….ideas are forming and Charly comes to discuss – we hatch a little plan – watch this space. I am served the family coffee for breakfast and it can easily give Rebo a run for its money! And I love Rebo. The coffee beans have been roasted in the kitchen and then freshly ground – cant get much fresher than that! Delicious
Then Einstein arrives and he and I have a long chat about life love and all else in between – I tell him I want some more of his lovely bowls and he also has a new line he wants to give me – not bowls tho people – its going to be exciting!
The jeep is finally ready and we take off to see Onel at the school. Mario is sick and looking very sorry forhimself – I suggest he goes home even tho I am frustrated at the time this project is taking to conclude. Christian heads off to get more sand and I join in a class that Onel is teaching – Biology and maths all in one lesson. They are learning about how a flower/plant is constructed and a simple sum. There is a huge range of ages in this crowded class. We have some fun and the girls as usual ALL want my very very small earrings.
After class I just chat with a group who have stayed behind as we are there. Most of the children have gone home early as today there is no food! The WPF deliver the rations of food but most times they are late with the delivery and it can mean that sometimes the children do not have lunch – I find that news hard to take as it is one of the things our sponsors are providing towards – our money doesn’t buy all the food but contributes towards it – there are 650 children to feed - our side of the deal is all in place but the World Food Programme are failing in their duty of care. I know it is a donation however if they have committed to something then they must keep the promise. It may well be a level of corruption in the local office but I have to try and find a way to investigate it with out causing more trouble.
We have a talk with Onel and I ask about all the teachers and if they are happy etc etc. I also discuss the party we are planning for the children on the 16th – I have hired a Hip Hop group to perform on our nearly finished stage in the playground and LG Christian’s friend will DJ there for us as well.
We drive to Munchees for a vey late lunch and then head home. Its early and the rain starts – everyone in Haiti hates the rain and so the place just shuts down. All in the Laplanche household are lights out and in bed by 8.30pm – there is something very sensible about it – I am usually working till 1 or 2 in the morning – BUT ‘When in Rome”……..
Breakfast and make plans for the next 2 days – I call Maeve and she has the tent we were promised back in November – we make arrangements to go and get it tomorrow and go straight up the mountain to Josue – I want to see it all set up and ready to go.
Christian’s family own a huge building in the Car wash yard that Papa Laplanche ran as a sweet factory back in the day. It is enormous and has lain empty for many years now. Some negotiations needed to happen to allow any of them to operate anything from the building. Those things have happened and Charly is forming a distribution company with his uncle to distribute drinks to the southern part of Haiti. Meanwhile the top floor is not used for anything – Christian has plans to turn it into a club – a great venue but much investment will need to be made.
First we went to Ivorsen’s school in Signeaux just outside Leogane to meet his head teacher – she seems really nice – I have met her 2 or 3 times now and each time it reinforces why I like her. She told us all about where she is in terms of the history of the school and what she is trying to achieve. None of it easy as she has a very poor catchment – the parents can ill afford the fees.
I went to see each class and as soon as I popped my head around Ivorsens class door he threw himself into my arms – he makes my heart melt – every time. Such a ready smile – and he rained kisses on my cheeks! Both of them……the others - thought it was all very funny and laughed loudly. They were in the middle of singing so I encouraged them to carry on – it was so sweet – with a lovely vibrant teacher who seemed so much fun too. The children were all covered in glitter as they are practising for the Karnival very soon.
The school is very basic – and a small space, it has 80 children but has a great feeling to it too. Ephemise the head teacher has put down a concrete pad to make 2 new classrooms but cannot afford to build them as then she wouldn’t be able to pay the teachers! Teachers in Haiti often go without pay – Christian explained to me that if as a girl you took your boyfriend home to meet the parents they would NOT be impressed if he was a teacher – they are considered not to have good prospects! It explains a great deal about the level of education! Sad very sad…
We took Ivorsen and his dad Gibson to lunch at the resto and I gave Ivorsen the little bag of Cars from Jean Rouget – he was very chuffed with them! We all played with them while we waited for our meal to arrive. We made loads of noise zooming the cars off the table onto the floor! Doesn’t take much to bring out the child in me – or Christian come to that!
Next to see Einstein to order some bowls and talk jewellery – I made some designs on his table – he is going to try them out and see……… watch this space – he really does make me laugh – he is very eccentric and tells stories is a very amusing way. He has been really done over by a couple of customers in the past and is owed some serious money – some folk don’t realise that he is governed very much by the weather and he is not a slick business in a warehouse with sophisticated machinery to rely on but a cottage industry run from a yard. I always pay him cash on delivery no messing and that is what he should insist on for everyone I feel. Also a 50% deposit and in some cases payment in total up front.
Thursday 7th Feb
Today is going to be a long one – we set off to collect Emily and Val – we had hired a large tap tap in Carrfour and the guy was sposed to be ahead – well he was and as we screamed to a halt a few mins into the drive I knew something was wrong – Christian lept from the car and started yelling at the driver – he was only taking on fares! We had hired him to be with us exclusively and he was working the taxi as well! Only in Haiti!
Soon on the way again and after frustrating queues we finally found Em and Val waiting at the DHL depot. We drove along the coast for around and hour and a half – it is hot arid and very very dry but on one side you have the deep blue of the Caribbean sea – beautiful.
We found the Orphanage and waited for Maeve to arrive
She has organised for me to have this tent from her boss who is also the owner of the Orphanage.
We loaded it up along with countless poles and set off on the long journey high up into the mountains above Port au Prince. We left the jeep at the base of the mountain and all climbed into the Tap – I was in the front with the driver and Christians friend. Half way up we have to make a very sharp left hand bend and it proved v difficult – something in the cab went pop and then a smell of burning flesh and rubber invaded my nostrils – oops think it is time for me to ‘descant’ - so I did!
After some manoeuvring the driver did finally make it up the hill and we were welcomed by a smiling Josue, who was pleased to see us all. There was a lady cooking griot and some fascinating little batter balls so we all had a couple as we were really hungry by now.
We discussed the new tent and the siting for it and also how we could help further – a concrete pad would make life much easier in the tent for starters.
All done and we made our way – to find something to eat.
Down the mountain – the tap had gone so we walked – nearly as hard on the way down so as not to slip…..and up the other side to a vantage point looking out over all Port au Prince – it was positively cold! Everyone started shivering except for me although towards the end I was a little cold too! That is a first for Haiti!
We ordered food and then Fito came with jackets for the boys – wimps – Em had already persuaded the man behind the bar to lend her his!
Back down dropped off Val and Em at Ke Kontann and we had a tricky journey back because all the roads seemed to be closed off! Finally home and I am knackered!
Off to the carnival at Cite Soleil in the school. The children are all decorated with glitter and some have costumes on too. There is a stage in front of Onel’s office and he is on his fav toy the microphone.
The children all take turns to dance and some rap and sing too.
Meanwhile Mario is getting on with the toilets.
All over and Emily wants to talk about some stuff we are doing so we go to meet her in a hardware shop bizarrely with a café in the rear!
Next we go to buy a highchair for the Orphanage and the the great thing is that the one I saw last time I wanted that was 200USD was in the sale for 80usd – bingo there was a good reason to wait to buy it.
We loaded it in and set off to collect Oliver a friend of Christians who had arranged out trip to Cap Haiten. On the way up Delmas we were stopped by 3 very serious Policeman and Christian and Emily and I were asked for papers. Em had her passport and Christian had his car papers but I did not have my passport on me.
They growled and told us we had to send for someone to get my passport.
Emily called Brunache – her friend – he is a top cop to Martelly, so one of the important ones. Within 3 mins there suddenly was not a problem – apparently he told them that Emily was his wife and they better let her go pronto! Ha - what it is to know people in high places!
Suddenly Brunache shoots right to the top of my Christmas card list – it is good to know people like him here in Haiti!
We continued our trip and I told Oliver that he should stick with us - we never have a boring time! I think he was wondering what he had got himself into. He was the guy we were paying for the trip to Cap Hatien.
All sorted so we dropped Emily and the high chair back to the Orphanage.
Next we have to go see Elsie as we need to pay her rent for the next 12 months. She knows that Elena and I cant give her the rent for ever…. I also sort out the children’s school fees – I love coming to visit as they feel like they are part of me now! Elsie is the most charming person ever and I dearly wish I could find her a job that paid better than the one she has now. But at least she does have a roof over her head and many don’t.
Elena and I have paid half each for the rent - it is 3,000usd per year about £1,800 per year.
Saturday 9th Feb
We set off for the annual Carnival in Cap Hatien in the North of Haiti – I have decided to treat him to thank him for all his work – I am paying personally for flights up there and the accommodation and car. The Carnival is a big deal in Haiti – a little like Christmas is to us - they make a huge fuss over it. There wasn’t a carnival the year after the earthquake and last year it was in the south so this year it is up North.
Our flight was 11.30am - we checked in and sat in the small waiting room until we were ready for the off – 16 seats and only one empty – the flight was 22 mins well 23 as he was a min late landing – a very good smooth flight! We were met on the tarmac by a group of ladies all dresses in bright carnival colours.
Outside our car was waiting – it was a really posh Mitsubishi – and it felt like getting into a luxury limo after our pile of junk – it even had air conditioning – after a few mins I said to Christian “something is wrong – really wrong” he looked at me really worried – “I am so comfortable AND WE HAVE AC! He looked SO relieved – ha had him hook line and sinker! The guy came with us to the owners house and then we had a diff one to show us to the hotel – we are staying in Labadee 15 klms outside Cap as we couldn’t get rooms in the town. We drove around town a little to get our bearings then we drove a coastal cliff route – very very beautiful. The guy told us that the President was staying in a hotel on the same road. The road – which I was expecting to be bad was really good – apparently just done in time for his knibs! Soon as we passed the place he was staying it became worse than I have known for AGES! Anywayt we went on a wild goose chase but eventually came to Belly Beach! Great name…..
We had to park the car and walk down many steps to get there and be met by Harry the owner – it is a beautiful place and a Kompa Band were just setting up so we spent the afternoon listening to the band – it was great fun and everyone was getting into it – the hotel is a series of basic rooms on the beach. We looked at all the 11 rooms and chose the 2 downstairs closest to the action.
On the way we passed Labadee bay where all the cruise ships stop and discharge their passengers into a totally closed off part of Haiti – so false and un real!
I went for a sleep and unknown to me Christian went into town to get me a internet jack – however all his efforts were in vain as we could not get it working at all.
I stayed in bed and he went off into town again as he wanted to see what was going on.
Sunday 10th feb
I was up as agreed at 7am however a certain person wasn’t! he got in at 3.20am – he had got a popped tyre on the way there – he had searched everywhere in Cap for somewhere with a jack – there wasn’t one in the Car! Incredible. Anyhow we had breakfast and both agreed that they are not used to people staying over night – it is what as known as a ‘love hotel’ used as a lovers meeting place – we had eggs, very bad coffee and bread but the plus side was that there was no one else there so beautiful and peaceful.
We took off in to Okap as it is called here – to get the tyre repaired – and to see where we wanted to be stand wise for the evening. Christian left me in a little market while he investigated – the retailers were so very aggressive – quite unlike what I have experienced before – all of them, bar one, told me that bad things would happen to me if I didn’t buy from them.
Needless to say I went back to the nice guy and bought 4 soap stone figures – they are lovely.
Then we found a restaurant to have lunch and cool down – I was suffering with the heat as I had to sit in the car while Christian did all his dealings and the sun was on my side, scorching through the glass – didn’t have enough water with me to drink – silly me!
Made our way back to the car and the floats were all starting to congregate – a man walked down the road with a couple of snakes around his neck and the people around were getting very over excited!
Came back to a very full Belly Beach and more Kompa playing – it is so loud but somehow I don’t mind it! In fact I love it…
Christian is going to meet with a friend from his school days who is only recently back in Haiti and I will sleep to be ready for tonight!
Slept well and Christian came back to get me at 9pm. On the way passed the hotel the President is staying in we were stopped by the Police – have left my passport in the Hotel – oh well not so far back – all they wanted was a lift to the Carnival – phew – actually they were really nice and when we got into town the place was heaving and they found us a place to park we would never have been allowed to be at normally. Then they gave us an escort through the heaving – and I mean heaving, crowd to a stand that Emily had arranged places for us and free too – they were 50usd per person for each day! It was up above street level and gave us a great view over the crowds below and the floats that passed too. We were directly opposite the Presidents stand and up high and had a good view of him and his wife sitting on the sofas relaxing. He came to the front every time a float went passed and each lead singer either sang to him or spoke to him all giving words of support and encouragement for his presidency.
There is no doubt that the Carnival has an electric atmosphere but the part I cant compute is that there are so many people all trying to get places that there is trouble that erupts usually involving Police beating the crowds back and then sometimes fights ensue as well. That is hard to see.
We fought our way back out with Tina and Emily as Tina wasn’t feeling too good. I had developed a chest infection yesterday and so I was really pleased with how well I managed – we got to bed about 4pm after we had taken the other 2 home to the other side of Okap. I really was feeling the chesty thing by then.
Monday 11th Feb
Breakfast after sleeping in till 11am – oops very tired.
I was not feeling great at all and decided to try and sleep in the afternoon – Christian left at 2pm and by 4pm I had a full on fever and just as that happened the fan and AC decided not to work so I burned up for the next 12 hours as soon as I was out of the hot stage and into the cold shivery stage the AC came back on! Great and only a sheet to wrap myself in…….it was becoming very clear this is not a good place to be sick! Christian had asked the girl for some juice and 2 bottles of water for me – she came with the juice which was so sweet you could stand a spoon up in it – I took a sip and was violently sick for the next 2 hours – no water came – so by morning I was really dehydrated – but I soon managed to get it under control.
Emily had decided to come back to our place as she didn’t like where she was staying.
I was determined not to let my day be ruined so I got up – feeling very wobbly – took 2 immodium and grabbed the day with both hands – we went into OKAP and found a place to get on line and have some lunch. Then we went to get Emilys clothes from the other house – that took a while – next we headed off to find a parking spot and get into the crowd again – this would be the busiest night as it was the last – found a good spot and headed for the stand again – they let us in free again which was so good and saved me lots of dosh.
Tina arrived back having driven all the way back from Port au Prince once again.
Up, and into Okap to get something to eat before our flight home.
Very good flight on a beautiful day – one of Christian’s friends came to collect us in his car and we had a dream trip home through empty streets. The whole place closes for 3 days after the Carnival as a tradition. Caught up with all my emails – great to be back on the internet.
Thursday 14th Feb
Really hot today – and the day started very well as I had come home to good strong REAL coffee not the sludge that was served at the Belly Beach in Okap!
There has been a problem with one of our projects and it has not been going according to plan – not my fault and not Christians – however there has been a serious fly in the ointment. Today it reared its ugly head and meant I had to address it full on – it has not been pleasant but I am here in Haiti to take full responsibility for what ever I do and make sure I do what ever is needed to progress things. Sometimes there are people with other agendas that muddy seemingly clear waters…….not what I want to be involved in.
I have now received the support of someone else who has come into the picture with a solution that means that I can pull away from the problem and it can be solved in a way that is beneficial to the people who need the help the most. Perfect – no more time needs to be wasted.
We went down to Leogane to Ivorsens school, Le Pavillion de Fefe run by the headteacher – Ephemise. The school is small and crammed into a tiny site but I like it – the teachers are a happy smiley lot and Ephemise has a really kind face and manner. As it is the day after Carnival half the school were not there – Ivorsen being one of them – I told her I would be going to see Gibson to ask him why Ivorsen was not there….we all had a little chuckle – but I will! She said that on Monday the ones that didn’t attend to day will be sent home! Good on her!
I gave out the little dresses to around 30 of the children and gave the boys glowsticks – toothpaste and some boys clothing I had been given also.
We dressed the girls and had some fun too. Christian asked Ephemise about the classroom she wants to build and they talked design – the gate is also sorely in need of renewing – a part of a tree fell on it ages ago and bent it beyond repair – she feels it gives a bad impression from the outside – I agree – the school sign is bent also.
I told her that I wan ted to help her more but that I don’t have big money – and could do one thing at a time – her list of three in importance are – classroom, gate and teachers salaries – I told her I cant start to pay salaries but I can do one off things so I will consider both the gate and the classroom and do which ever one I can. She was very pleased and told me that she would be very happy with whatever we choose to do.
As we arrived back into the Car wash Einstein was there – he was so funny telling me that chocolates/chocolate cake/balloons/and roses were not enough for his girlfriend – she said to him ‘why wont you marry me’ haha he is so dramatic when he tells the story as if his heart is breaking. He is such a character – slightly crazy but I like that! ARENT WE ALL??
Pasha, Christians 5 year old nephew, wanted to look at some of my pictures – he was really glued to the Sri Lankan children dancing – I had several videos and he could’nt get enough, copying the movements – he is a little sweetie.
Charly came home and showed me that he had been to Paup to buy a coffee grinding machine. We have a little plan – for me to bring home Haitian coffee and see if I can get some buyers for him – his uncle grows coffee in southern Haiti. I will bring some back with me this time and see what the reaction is at home.
Friday 15th Feb
I had a very good response to the FB message I put on about Charly’s coffee and if people are interested in buying it.
We took LG with us to go into PaP and the school as they needed to see what was where. Mario was back to his usual self thank goodness – I had never seen him so quiet and with drawn.
Mario and Christian went off to get some cement while I chatted to LG – he had said to Christian in the car that he could not understand why he can understand other people when they speak English but not me – Christian told him ‘that is because she speaks English properly and with an English accent not an American one” Oh how I wish my mother could have heard that – she always used to accuse me of ‘murdering the Queens English’! ha well now I have arrived! And the other day being told by Bijoui Christians friend that my English accent is sexy – well I am staying in Haiti!
The stage is nearly done and after a little impromtu keyboard playing by Onels brother and Christian and LG drumming on the desks we left to go and get Christian’s phone contract renewed and get some lunch with LG who had been to buy some cabling he needed for tomorrow.
These 2 together are quite a pair – there was a group of 5 ladies on the table behind us and they were laying bets on who could get the most phone numbers! Of course it didn’t happen – they didn’t even get one – all mouth and no trousers as my granny would say – still very entertaining for me!
LG took himself home and Christian and I went up to Emilys – Justin was there – it was good to meet him as I had heard so much about him but never actually met him before – he had let the kids shave off his beard the other day and I hardly recognised him.
I gave Em the meds for Maeve and we had a quick chat about the messages from the morning. Next Val bought up a speaker and put it on the table – both the twins were rocking on all fours in time to the music – very sweet! And funny. All the children were playing football in the yard with some of the tent camp kids.
Coming home we were stopped by the police three times - 1st time as the police man came to the window a lady outside said ‘hey look it is Sarah’ the police man looked at her and then at me and I gave him a big smile – he asked if I spoke French and I said – un petit peu – he thought that was funny. We were near Cite Soleil and so the woman recognised me from the school. But it was late at night and the Police would wonder what we were doing in this area as most will stay well away after dark. The next one - Christian managed to blag his way out – his insurance expired this week on the car and he didn’t notice at it says Feb on the windscreen but the papers say early Feb – third time it was a cop Christian knew! Phew – we seem to be stopped all the time at the moment!
Sat 16th feb
Up early after a sleepless night – the power went off and the inverter did not kick in for the second night in a row. It is not a problem however I cannot sleep at home if I am too hot so here it is just amplified! The morning coffee and sharp hit of caffine will sort me out I have no doubt.
Today is party day and Christian has everything under control – the drinks are ordered from Charlie the equipment left earlier with all on board. He has spoken to David the leader of the group and we are all set. I am very excited and hope the kids enjoy the show.
We set off a little late for my liking and immediately realised the traffic was going to be a major problem – that is the biggest understatement ever! It was the worst I have ever known it to be! In my whole time in Haiti!
I hate being late and we were supposed to be there early to get all the last bits ready and meet the Dance team at 9.30am.
After we had stopped anyway to get the biscuits and crisps I realised that we might not even make it for 10am – LG called to say that he had left at 6am and he still wasn’t there either…….. ouch what has happened I wonder?
Anyway we finally made it at 10am on the dot – nearly 2 hours from home and that journey can be made in 20 mins!
LG was there and the speakers all in place – the kids had started to assemble and Onel had rigged up a tarpaulin over the stage for some shade. It seemed to be a particularly hot day – maybe it was just me….however Emily and Justin who arrived at that point burnt along with me too.
The Tap Tap that had bought the speakers and Dj’s gear up went off to collect the Dance Crew and LG and Christian checked all the sound system.
The boys arrived and David their head came to find me – he was very charming and introduced me to all the others there were 5 adults and then a team of teenagers in training.
We started with the dancing and suddenly the children all gathered around by the stage – they didn’t really know what to expect I think and maybe thought it was just going to be music and DJ’s…..
The dancing started and the crowd cheered and clapped – up on the dump, others had gathered drawn by the beat of the music. They gave us a great show and whirled and jumped into the air with great style. All of us watched ooo’ed aahh’d and whistled and cheered with the variety of stylish moves. Great fun. The boys finished, Em Justin and Val had to go as Em had volunteers arriving at the airport - and after a few more tracks Onel asked all the children to go to their classrooms so we could distribute the drinks and crisps.
This was fine however we forgot the biscuits and when Christian started to give them out to one class who had stayed put all the others had come out and it was a little like a feeding frenzy – arrghhh – this of course is born out of them being very hungry and thinking they are missing out on something important. A one stage he was throwing them into the air – a little like Martelly at the Carnival with the footballs – chaos ensued. He made the decision to abandon that idea and give the rest to Onel to give out another time.
Wow it had been a long hot morning but I am SO pleased with how it went – you never know what is going to happen and having never met the group I didn’t know if they would turn up even. Success. I have wanted to do some kind of party for the children for so long now and this hit the spot.
From there Christian and I went to a little café with AC to cool down and have some lunch – I was so so hot and feeling very dusty and dirty too. I was good to chill and calm down after all the excitement. Next we went off to see Elsie as I had promised her that we would see her before leaving. She told us that when she took the landlord the money for the next years rent he told her he wanted her out! No notice at all – said she must be gone by March! Gutted – it constantly staggers me how people can be so heartless. I was chatting to Christian and saying how if I had one magic wand it would be to get Elsie settled in somewhere secure and permanent
I love her so much and really want to get her onto a different level so she is not constantly looking over her shoulder all the time.
Leogane Day today – we had arranged to meet Ephemise at the school to talk about gates and buildings - Mario was buzzing past on his bike so we got him to come in too. Ephemise was there with her niece and nephew and a little girl who she looks after. She was braiding hair – Mario and Christian took off to go and talk gates. I had the chance to chat with Ephemise. She had been bought up in a sort of girls home herself – her husband works in the Hospital across the road as a driver. She started off teaching with the Nuns across the road and then went to the school that Mario was working in behind the Camp Laska site. She worked there for 3 years and then started this little school on family land just after the Earthquake.
The boys came back and Mario was horrified with what Gibson’s dad had quoted – he provided the original gate 2 years ago – now it wanted 1,700usd! Ouch we were thinking 250/300 usd! Bit of a gap! Gibson’s dad asked Christian if I had left already! Christian asked him why and he said that he had told Gibson that we wants to sell the land his shop is on – Christian and I both agree that he is trying it on to spoil what Gibson has – how very mean……we also agree that no matter what price we get the gate to we will NOT purchase from him!
We went to see Gibson and he was shocked at the price but confirmed that his father had told him the same story – he was not happy as we thought he wouldn’t be! Why cant people be happy for other’s success – Gibson’s Dad already has a business for goodness sake!
While the boys were talking I went to find Ivorsen who was in his Dad’s house doing his homework which he proudly showed me! There were 2 other older lads there as well – both very sweet wanting their pics taken.
Ivorsen burst into tears when I said goodbye to him – oh it was terrible – turns out he thought we were taking him for lunch – he sure knows how to cut me up – nearly made me cry too. I gave him a big truck as compensation – and kissed away his tears! Aw little sweet pea – he hugs me so tight when he sees me.
Next we went to Mario’s and Christian told me about the land for the Severines – it would be 750usd left to pay Mr Sev says he would pay the balance at the Notary’s Office – I asked Christian to be there to hand over the money in the office provided Nicky agrees to it when I tell her.
Arrived at Marios’ and he has concreted the corridor and one rooms floor and part plastered it too. Ketmal has shot up and is all legs! Vivaldi or Vivy as they now call him was so chuffed with his ‘machine’s’ – last time I went he rather pleading asked of me ‘machine”? it means car or jeep – he wanted one to play with – so I had bought a set of building trucks/helicopter but in a mini size and then had bought a car which made noises and played a horn etc – both he and Mario were happy! Ketmal had some colours and a little book and pen etc – she really is the most beautiful and sweet natured little girl ever. I gave Mario’s girlfriend a little notebook – she is sweet too and Ketmal and her get along very well which is good.
I agreed to give Mario 300usd more to plaster and cement the other 2 rooms and put doors on too.
I gave him 200 and owe him 100 tomorrow.
Next we went to see Einstein – but he didn’t show! Off to eat at the Auberge after we tried another spot that didn’t have rice – bizarre….ly!
Back home and the internet has played up all day – so Christian tried to fix it to no avail. I worked and he went off to Carot – his smiley friend who collected us from the Airport’s – party.
Monday 18th Feb
Up early and off to Onels to check on the toilets and see that Mario knows what to do next. Then we went to Ke Kontan but on the way the jeep broke down and this time it was good and proper - Val was passing in a car on the way to the supermarket so I was picked up on their way back. Emily has a house full of volunteers and planned to take them up to Kenscoff to an area full of Tourist shops - Em managed to get me 2 pics for 20 quid each, which was good and some other metal art stuff too.
We were all very hot and tired and one of the vols puked on the way back down to the House.
Spent a little time at the house but it was very frentic with the camp kids in for class. I needed to speak with Val but he had gone to Epidor to get sandwiches for them all. By this time I was feeling really tired and weedy as we had not had breakfast and it was 4pm by now. We drove home and on the way called into the Auberge for supper but after ordering a drink I had gone past the eating stage.
Home and Christian called Val to come to Mariani - He had asked me to loan him the funds for a moto - but a trials bike not ordinary one. I had thought about it over a couple of days and needed to tell him my thoughts.
I explained that I had already helped him a great deal – more than many others and I was worried about encouraging a culture of buy before u can afford……so I proposed that we would save 50usd from his salary each month until half the amount was raised – that way we would have more time to see if the job was working out and also we could see if he really DID want the bike. We already keep 100usd back for him to gradually pay off his land – we agreed to give him the money we owed him for the land – 3 months and the rest of his graphic school fees and would keep 2 months of 50usd for the bike – Jan /Feb